MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — His West Virginia team won’t go bowling and statistically ranks seventh or worse in the Big 12 in 22 of 29 major offense/defense/special teams categories. Oh, and it suffered the ultimate ignominy of losing to Kansas. By double-digits.

Yet Dana Holgorsen contends the 2013 Mountaineers—currently 4-7—have shown improvement over the 2012 squad that climbed as him as No. 5 in the AP poll before finishing 7-6.

“I think we’re a better football team this year than last year, minus maybe one or two guys,” the coach said Tuesday.

Granted, those one or two guys were monumental difference-makers: the program’s all-time leading passer (Geno Smith) and its all-time leading tackle eluder (Tavon Austin). And we understand that wins-losses aren’t the only metric by which to evaluate a team, though in the course of evaluating a coach, they’re awfully crucial.

Holgorsen’s assertion that this team is better than the last—despite the offensive inconsistencies, the shuffling quarterbacks and the repeated defensive breakdowns—more likely was about finding morsels of progress in an otherwise frustrating season. He can point to improved team chemistry and even added depth, though a rash of late-season injuries left the two-deep thin at several spots.

Yes, it was projected to be a rebuilding year at WVU. Yes, many programs can eke out six wins despite rebuilding pains. And yes, Holgorsen might still be right about this team—it just doesn’t feel very apparent after losing four of five to fall out of bowl contention.

Saying that either Clint Trickett or Paul Millard will start the season finale at quarterback, Holgorsen ruled out Ford Childress after Tuesday morning’s practice.

“It won’t be Ford,” the coach said. “He’s just not ready (though) he could go in and piece it together if we needed to.”

Childress tore a pectoral muscle in a 37-0 loss at Maryland on Sept. 21 and hasn’t played since, experiencing intermittent setbacks with soreness. The redshirt freshman Childress was 1-1 as a starter this season, while Trickett stands 2-4 and Millard 1-2.

Trickett was cleared for contact after sustaining a concussion in the loss to Texas on Nov. 9. The junior also admitted Tuesday to hiding a concussion he suffered against K-State in the first half of a 35-12 loss on Oct. 26.

Holgorsen said Trickett and Millard will split reps this week.

“They’re trying hard. They’re competing. I feel like we can with either one—I really do,” Holgorsen said. “Clint’s proven to where he’s won a couple of Big 12 games. Paul’s proven where he could in there and run the offense effectively if he stays within the scheme.”

In a less-serious moment, Holgorsen joked: “Maybe we’ll just rotate them—try to go every other play. We haven’t tried that yet.”

Holgorsen called Iowa State “without a doubt, the most competitive 2-9 team in the country. That’s for certain.” Gee, wonder if Paul Rhoads would like that engraved on a trophy.

The Cyclones opened the season by losing to FCS member Northern Iowa and have gone 2-9 overall—those wins coming over Tulsa and Kansas (teams that are a combined 6-16 themselves). Yet coaches always find a way to compliment opponents.

“People can say what they want about how they’re no good, (but) they’ve been in plenty of games,” Holgorsen said.

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  • wv_hawk

    Holgerson Thinks the team is better?? He may be correct...

    But the coaching staff is worse...

    So there's your explaination as to "why" the record was better last year compared to this year... I guess...

  • JL

    Fans here measure you against other WVU coaches. Dana you might tell us your team is better - but we are more concerned about the people in charge. This is the truth. Don was better - Rich Rod was better - and Bill was better. So we can all make comparisons.

  • Let'sGoMtneers

    The sacks and fumbles really hurt us this year, and too many were too close to their goal line.
    I've been wondering if a more mobile QB could have helped and then I remembered Chavas Rawlins. He came in early and left early and I can't help but think that he may be having some regrets or at least second thoughts about his decision to transfer. He could have been a 4th option and who knows. LET'S GO MTNEERS.

  • clair thompson

    As if it really matters in the big scheme of life.

  • Ronald G Jeremy

    What a boneheaded statement.

    The performance @ Kansas shows we have not improved this season. Injuries aside--we just have not shown enough progression to say we are better team this season than last.

  • Mountaineer for Life.

    Doc Holliday will be the next coach for WVU.

  • Mountaineer for Life.

    Holgorsen: ‘We’re a better football team this year than last year’


    Holgorsen: ‘We’re a better football team this year than last year’



    You can tell "dandy" DANA is in over his head, when he makes comments like this. It's hard to interpret such a statement like this when at least we qualified for a Bowl game last year.

  • wvureject

    its simple....dude is not a head coach! He should have stuck with offensive coordinator position.

  • Peach state fan

    Mr. Luck is the problem not the football coach. Who hired Holgersen and who agreed to an 11.5 Million dollar buyout? We have to give the man a couple more years, because of his contract. I sincerely hope he is successful, but I have major doubts.

  • Judy Rea

    We've been following WeeVee for 30 years and love this team. DH has NOT been good for them! He never gives them a chance to excel, and puts them down constantly. I believe he damaged Geno so much last year, he still hasn't been able to recover. This is the team DH built at this point - not proudly! Trickett will grow and get better, with a different coach! Defense is doing better this year, thankfully!

  • dutchman

    If it wasn't for the exorbitant sum of money WVU is paying this snake oil salesman he should be shown the door. The "offensive guru" couldn't figure out how to gain a yard in two plays against Texas to win the game. He doesn't know what "fake punt" means. He couldn't care less about defense, hiring good 'ol boy DeForest Gump as DC his first year. It told us all we need to know about this mountebank when he had Smith, Austin, and Bailey and barely ended with a winning season.

  • chad

    The garbage that comes out "coach" Holgerson's mouth is mind boggling

  • Barrett

    How do we find these guys? Talking to a friend of mine in Tennessee the other day and he asked..........who's your coach? Friends, thats how relative WVU is in college football.

    • Carl White

      OK Barrett,who's Tennessee's coach?,tell us before you google it.How about Washington State ? who is their coach ? See how easy that is ?

  • Darrell Jividen

    The people who want to fire Dana are the same type people who wanted to fire Bobby Bowden when he had a bad year. they don't know anything about football. Go WVU, Go Dana.